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Who is Satan?

I have a Christian friend who is always talking about God's battle with Satan. Why is Satan allowed to come to earth to sow death, hatred, and other turmoil? It would seem to be much easier to have banned him before he caused the hurt of so many. Is this a Jewish concept as well?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

Although Judaism introduced the concept of Satan, it differs significantly from the later Christian idea.

In Judaism, Satan is just another one of the many spiritual messengers (angels) that God sends to accomplish His purpose. Satan has no power independent of God; otherwise this would imply a lack of God's all-inclusive control and power.

It is my understanding that Christianity holds Satan to be independent of God; thus the idea of a “battle” between them.

The definition of the Hebrew word "satan" means an adversary (see Numbers 22:22). Satan's mission is to tempt people away from God and lead them astray. In this way, a person has the opportunity to strengthen their loyalty and connection to God. (see Talmud - Baba Batra 15a)

To learn more, read the biblical Book of Job, a classic case where Satan is sent to challenge one's relationship with God.

May the Almighty give us all the courage and clarity to overcome our challenges!

More Questions

Due to limited resources, the Ask the Rabbi service is intended for Jews of little background with nowhere else to turn. People with questions in Jewish law should consult their local rabbi. Note that this is not a homework service!

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